5 of the Best Outdoor Activities to Enjoy in Edmonton This Summer

*I was a guest of Edmonton Tourism as part of a hosted media tour. But as always, the adventures, stories and information provided are genuinely and authentically my own.

Edmonton is known to fiercely embrace its cold winters. But in summertime, it blooms vibrantly with festivals, events, river valley activities and patios to dine, drink and devour ice cream on.

Despite living 5 hours away in Saskatoon, I’ve only visited a handful of times. Its been an escape during winter to get away to shop in West Edmonton Mall and check out the waterpark and Galaxyland. I’ve never really taken the time to be a tourist in the city.

Which is why I was so excited to visit this summer as part of an active and fitness-focused media trip with Edmonton Tourism.

Myself and three other women from Canada and the United States met up to take on the city for four days, hosted by our wonderful local guide Ula and Meredith from Edmonton Tourism.

It felt more like a girls-getaway as we formed friendships quickly. Over the weekend, we managed to bike, run and wander our way through some great neighbourhoods.

Here are five of the best outdoor activities to enjoy if you plan on visiting Edmonton in the summertime:

1. Hit the Trails with The Running Room Run Club

One active way to see more of Edmonton (and my favourite way to site-see and get the lay-of-the-land when travelling to a new city) is to run the Edmonton River Valley. 

There are 20 parks and 160 kilometres of pathways in the largest urban park in Canada. Running apps like Strava might keep you motivated with segment features that track results against others running the same route. But the most effective incentive is to join a group and go.

The Running Room’s flagship store started 35 years ago in the living room of an old house in Edmonton. Today, it’s one of Canada’s go-to stores to get all the info, education and gear for running. (There are 100 stores across North America and they’ve trained more than 800,000 runners!)

Every week they offer a free run club on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. But if you’d like a little more hands-on training, consider one of more than a dozen training programs.

If you want to challenge yourself and work towards a goal, register for one of the city’s many races. Try the lululemon Edmonton 10km, the Edmonton Ice Cream Run (you get two scoops of ice cream after your run – for real!), the Mega Bounce Run (sign up for a run that includes ten inflatables along the 5km route) or stick to the classic Edmonton Marathon.

2. Spin Around the River Valley with Revolution Cycle E-Bike Tours

A highlight of my trip to Edmonton was taking out an e-bike to explore the river valley (the valley is 22 times bigger than Central Park FYI).

An e-bike combines a standard bicycle as well as electric power to make pedalling easier. The small motor on the bike engages and gives a boost so cruising up the city’s hills or into the wind is much less work (so there’s more time to enjoy the scenery).

We chose to take a 2 hour guided e-bike tour with Revolution Cycle that covered 25 kilometres effortlessly. We cruised along the river, stopping to take photos on several bridges and spun through a few of Edmonton’s iconic neighbourhoods.

My favourite stop was at the Talus Dome art installment to snap a few Instagram-worthy photos in front of the pyramid of silver balls.

Revolution Cycle offers e-bike rentals if you want to explore on your own. Rentals cost $85.00 for the day from 10am until 4pm. Guided tours start from $80 and go up to $160 depending on whether it’s a 2 or 5-hour tour.

If you do take a tour, make sure to ask for Michael!

3. Walk the Farmer’s Markets and Festivals Happening Throughout the City

With nearly 60 festivals throughout the year, Edmonton is known as “Canada’s Festival City” for a reason. Not even -40 Celsius temperatures in winter stop Edmontonians from heading outside when it comes to the Deep Freeze, Ice on Whyte, and the Silver Skate festivals.

In the summer months, the city plays host to the continent’s first, biggest and wildest Fringe Theatre Festival as well as the Folk Music Festival and Symphony Under the Sky.

If Farmer’s Markets are your thing, Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market operates on Saturdays year round. Although it’s indoors, it spills out onto the streets in the summer in combination with multiple other festivals like Boardwalk Sand on Whyte and the International Street Performer’s Festival.

Other great markets in the city to check out are the 124 Grand Market and the Downtown Farmers’ Market.

4. Take a Guided Bison Backstage Tour at Elk Island National Park

It’s not even an hour outside of the city, but it feels like a million miles away. Elk Island National Park was originally established to protect one of the country’s last remaining herds of wild bison.

Today, they have a successful reintegration and conservation program and their bison can be found around the world – including at home in Saskatchewan in both Grasslands National Park West Block and Prince Albert National Park West Block.

We spent an afternoon in the park and joined the Bison Backstage Tour to learn a little more about the working handling facility. Not only did I get to hold a real bison skull but we got to climb up along the walkway of where the bison get handled every two years.

The park is also a designated dark sky preserve if you want to stargaze, see the milky way or try your luck with the northern lights.

5. Get up Early and Workout (for Free!) with The November Project

Always free, always fun. The November Project is a grassroots fitness movement (and book) that’s taking over the world.

What began as a dare between two out-of-shape former collegiate rowers in a Boston bar has made its way to YEG. Originally started in the city by Edmonton Oiler’s Andrew Ference in 2013, the 6AM workouts are now lead by a variety of people. Workouts happen three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Just like the locations vary (but Commonwealth Stadium and Walterdale Park are two regulars) so do the workouts. For 30 minutes, this community sweats together doing activities like pushups, lunges, squats and running hills, trails or stairs.

The best part is everyone is welcome too, regardless of your fitness level or expertise. Just show up!

What are your favourite fitness activities to do in Edmonton? Let me know in the comments!

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